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How Can I *Possibly* Survive a 30-Day Tech Detox?

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My name is Katy and I am a Facebook addict. I’ve been on the service since 2004, and with each new feature I seem to go further down the rabbit hole. In college, it was primarily a way of leaving embarrassing notes on each other’s virtual walls, (as opposed to actually walking down the dorm hall to leave an actual note on a friend’s actual wall.) Give me the photos, the party invites, the article shares, the memes, give me ALL OF IT. I use Facebook as a way of making new friends (podcast fan group FTW!) I use it for networking, it’s an easy way to “get to know” other writers I meet at retreats or conferences, I use it to stay on top of the news. I justify my Facebook time because I am an extrovert who works from home and has limited non-kid human interaction. Using Facebook makes me feel more connected. (Or does it?)

But after installing a time-tracking app on my phone, I was HORRIFIED at how much time I was spending on my phone, specifically social media. It was usually between 2-4 hours PER DAY. I’m a part-time working mom with two small kids, I do not have that kind of time!

I began to wonder where that time was coming from. I noticed how distracting my phone was. While cooking, while playing with my kids, while writing, it was always calling to me. “Just a quick Twitter check! Maybe look up that fact you just pronounced to your kids to see if it’s actually right!” And once I was looking at my phone, it was often another several minutes before I put it back down. And I’m not alone: studies have shown that even having a phone in the same room as you is a distraction.

Enter Cal Newport. (Who is not the same person as Kal Penn, apparently?) I’d heard his book Deep Work recommended on the excellent #amwriting podcast. When he was interviewed on the same podcast about his new book, Digital Minimalism, I knew I had to pick it up.

When reading non-fiction, I generally get the feeling “this really should’ve been a pamphlet and not an entire book,” but not so with Digital Minimalism. Newport clearly lays out both the science and philosophy behind his digital minimalist lifestyle and offers practical steps on how the reader can purge electronic time vampires from her life.

The first step (it’s a doozy!) is the 30-Day Detox. One month without all those addictive little apps, without video games, and without streaming services. Newport urges the reader to go cold turkey on their empty tech habits. Gulp.

I am slightly terrified to undertake such a detox. But I like to live dangerously, so here I go. As of March 1st, 2019, my tech detox will be as follows:

-I will delete Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Netflix, and Pinterest from my phone.

-I will only check social media once a week from my laptop, for work purposes (I’m still doing some social media stuff for Kids & Race until March 19) I will not LIKE or COMMENT on ANYTHING (!)

-When I’m home, my phone will live on the kitchen counter. I will not sleep with it next to me or bring it into another room when I’m doing spending time with my kids.

-I will only watch TV for social purposes (i.e. with a friend or loved one)

-I can choose 1 podcast a day to listen to, as well as the podcasts my kids ask for.

In addition to those things I am taking away, I’m going to try to add more time reading actual BOOKS on actual paper, spend more time alone, take more (un-distracted) walks and try to connect more with friends via ACTUAL CONVERSATION. To that end, I will still use Facebook Messenger, Marco Polo, email, and text as a way to plan meet ups with friends.

I’m planning on providing weekly updates for my Tech Detox on this blog. If you want to connect, you can comment below or you know…call me!

Tech Detox: Week One

Combating Creative Jealousy